HAPPY GO LUCKY: Madison’s Macky Hecox (above, middle) and Whitney Wynn (right) mug for the camera while teammate Alex Thurnall prepares awaits a play during practice on Monday. Hecox gets her shot blocked by Olivia Crozier (below). The Lady Cubs open the season on Friday at home against Switzerland County. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
HAPPY GO LUCKY: Madison’s Macky Hecox (above, middle) and Whitney Wynn (right) mug for the camera while teammate Alex Thurnall prepares awaits a play during practice on Monday. Hecox gets her shot blocked by Olivia Crozier (below). The Lady Cubs open the season on Friday at home against Switzerland County. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Madison's girls basketball team had high hopes a year ago as it entered postseason play. Standing 16-4 and fresh off a Final Four appearance a year earlier, the Lady Cubs had every reason to feel confident that they were about to embark on another long post-season run.

But it wasn't meant to be. On a cold night in a hot, packed gym at Rushville High School, Madison's season ended in a 63-56 sectional championship game loss to the host Lions. The game was physical, it was emotional and it was a loss that lingers to this day, nine months later.

"We had pretty big plans for last year," said senior Whitney Wynn. "(The loss) just eats at me each day. I'm ready to get back farther than we did and that just motivates us every day in practice."

Madison opens the 2013-14 season on Friday at home against Switzerland County. For the Lady Cubs, this is a season where a sectional championship just won't be good enough.

"We have high expectations this season. Very high expectations," said Madison coach Willie Humes, who enters his third year at the helm of his alma mater. "This team expects to get at least to the semistate, if not further. They're very confident."

The Cubs have every reason to be confident. The team returns three starters and five key players from last year's team, which fell one win shy of the school record. Adding to that roster is a freshman and sophomore class, each of which has won AAU National Championships in the past several years.

But while the Lady Cubs are confident, they know they can get better. Four of Madison's five losses last season - including the sectional loss to Rushville - came on the road and the Cubs feel like they gave away potential wins at Corydon, Austin and Columbus East.

"When we take someone lightly, we usually talk before the game about last year, and how a team was last year. Well last year's gone," junior Olivia Crozier said. "This is year is now. They're a different team. They may have the same people, but those people are going to be better. We just can't think about last year. We have to think about this year. This is a new team. We need to give 100 percent right at the start and not wait until halftime."

Madison's success this year will hinge on the play of Crozier, the 6-foot-2 junior all-star candidate. Last year's Madison Courier Player of the Year, Crozier averaged a double-double of 13.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, but she also blocked 51 shots, had 57 steals and shot 62 percent from the floor in a stellar sophomore season.

Humes is expecting a lot from his star, who de-committed from the University of Evansville last year to re-open her recruiting. The Cub coach knows that Crozier will be pivotal to any long-term success Madison has this year.

"We've told her that she has to finish nearly every time at the basket and we're going to be looking for her," Humes said. "We have a 6-foot-2 player inside and we have to do that."

But Crozier is hardly Madison's only weapon. Wynn averaged 10.4 points, second on the team despite coming off the bench, in a "super sub" role a year ago. A four-year varsity player, Wynn's ability to get to the basket and shoot the three should help take pressure off Crozier inside.

"I want to have a big year. It's my senior year and I want to go out with a bang," Wynn said. "(Humes) is going to put me at every spot and I'm ready for all that. I'm just trying to get my shot down. I'm ready for it."

In addition to Crozier and Wynn, seniors Alex Thurnall and Macky Hecox both averaged just under 7 points per game while point guard Delanie Jones knocked down her share of big shots. The Cubs will also get a boost from 5-foot-10 senior Ireland Falconberry, who missed virtually all of last season with a knee injury, and sophomore Katie Hartman, who might be the most athletic player on the team.

Making sure that Madison utilizes all of its strengths will be a key for the Cubs this season.

"We have to play as a team. We can't fall apart because that's when we lose the game, when people want to take it individually," Crozier said. "We have to make sure we make that extra pass to get it to the open person and score that basket because every basket is vital."

Madison opens the season with non-conference games against Switzerland County, South Dearborn, Salem and Southwestern before getting into the meat of its Hoosier Hills Conference schedule. The highlight will be a Saturday afternoon game at No. 1 Bedford North Lawrence, the defending Class 4A State Champion,

BNL, which will be coached by former Mr. Basketball Damon Bailey this season, beat Madison by just 10 points a year ago en route to an undefeated season. That margin was the Stars' fifth-closest game of the season.

Another big game will be at Brownstown Central on Jan. 7, but for different reasons. Wynn, Crozier, Hecox and sophomore Delany Liter all started for Madison's volleyball team, which lost a heart-breaker to Brownstown in the sectional finals just three weeks ago.

"There are a few people are still trying to get over (the loss to Brownstown) by the time of the first game, everybody's going to be over it," Crozier said. "The only way I think the volleyball will affect us is when we play Brownstown Central. I think we'll take a little extra out in the game."

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MADISON CUBS

GIRLS BASKETBALL

2013-14 Schedule

(Home games in CAPS)

Nov. 15 SWITZERLAND CO. 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 19 at South Dearborn 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 23 SALEM 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 27 at Southwestern 6 p.m.

Dec. 3 at Floyd Central* 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 6 JEFFERSONVILLE* 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 10 NEW WASHINGTON 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 14 at Seymour* 1:30 p.m.

Dec. 19 JENNINGS CO.* 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 21 at Bedford N.L.* 1:30 p.m.

Jan. 7 at Brownstown 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 9 at New Albany* 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 11 AUSTIN 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 14 at Silver Creek 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 18 CORYDON 1:30 p.m,

Jan. 21 at Scottsburg 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 25 COLUMBUS EAST* 1:30 p.m.

Feb. 1 at South Ripley 1:30 p.m.

Feb. 4 FRANKLIN CO. 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 7 CHARLESTOWN 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 11 3A Sectional TBA

*-HHC Games

Head Coach: Willie Humes (3rd year, 36-13)

2012-13 Record: 18-5, 5-2 HHC

Tournament Run: Sectional - defeated South Dearborn 77-44; defeated Greensburg 77-18; lost to Rushville 63-56.

PROBABLE STARTING LINEUP

Pos. - No. - Name - Cl. - Ht. - Key Stats

G - 5 - - Delanie Jones - Sr. - 5-6 - 2.9 ppg, 3.1 apg

G - 10 - Alex Thurnall - Sr. - 5-7 - 6.3 ppg, 2.0 apg

G - 20 - Whitney Wynn - Sr. - 5-7 - 10.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg

F - 30 - Macky Hecox - Sr. - 5-8 - 6.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg

F - 32 - Olivia Crozier - Jr. - 6-1 - 13.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg

BENCH

Pos. - No. - Name - Cl. - Ht. - Key Stats

G - 3 - - Raven Lee - Jr. - 5-4 - First Varsity Season

F - 4 - - Kaitlin Rice - Sr. - 5-5 - First Varsity Season

G - 11 - Katie Hartman - So. - 5-9 - 2.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg

F - 12 - Delany Liter - So. - 5-9 - First Varsity Season

F - 23 - Ireland Falconberry - Sr. - 5-11 - Injured



Assistant Coaches: Dwight Inskeep, Marcus Sullivan.